Everyone needs to be distracted from time to time, whether from illness, what’s going on around them or simply from life itself. Distractions don’t take the problems away, but they might take your mind off whatever is bothering you. When you’re living with pain, learning to distract yourself from it might help. A distraction might take your mind off the pain for a few minutes or even a few hours.
We need all the help we can get when we live with chronic pain because there is not one single stand-alone solution. Pain medication and some techniques like breathing and relaxation can help but distractions play an important role too. I’m not suggesting that distractions can cure chronic pain but they can give us some breathing space.
Learning to Distract Yourself From Pain Isn’t Easy
But when you are living with chronic pain, it’s not always easy to distract yourself from it. In fact, it can be extremely difficult. It’s often a game of ‘who can shout the loudest’ and pain does like to be heard. If your pain is anything like mine, it probably has a very loud voice.
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Learning to Distract Yourself from Pain
When we find a distraction that we can get really absorbed in we might be able to turn down the volume a little bit. However, we do need to accept that those distractions might only work for a short time before pain turns up the volume again. Then we need to listen to our bodies, take a break and either rest or find another distraction.
My distractions can vary depending on my pain levels. Some days I might manage to spend twenty minutes painting. But other days, I couldn’t contemplate doing that at all. I might be able to enjoy watching a favourite television show or read a chapter of a book some days but at other times I might just listen to music. If I can relax, I might be able to cope with the pain better.
My pain might keep reminding me that it’s still here but even just a few minutes of distraction from it at a time can make a huge difference.
20 Ways to Distract Yourself From Your Pain
I’ve put together a list of some of my favourite distractions. Like everything else in life, what helps one person, might not help other people. But isn’t anything worth trying when you are in pain?
We have a multitude of channels on tv. I could spend my time watching quiz shows, dramas and wildlife documentaries, but really my favourite television distraction would be reruns of old sit-coms like Only Fools and Horses.
If you have never seen Only Fools and Horses, then you need to.
2. A – Z
This probably goes back to my childhood. During family parties at Christmas, we played A – Z games.
I now do this if I am having a bad day or struggling to sleep. It can distract me from my pain for a wee while and it gets my head into another place.
I use subjects like animals, countries, movies or song titles. Or rather than choose a specific subject, I simply look around the room and find something that starts with every letter of the alphabet. That can often mean getting creative with some letters, but (thanks to having Coeliac Disease) I always have xanthan gum in my kitchen cupboard. And I am quite partial to zesty lemon mousse, so there could be one hiding in the back of the fridge. And there’s nearly always an empty tin of Quality Street floating around somewhere. (Why are those tins always empty?)
Speaking of getting creative, there is nothing more distracting and satisfying than getting crafty. The internet is full of brilliant crafting ideas from macrame to origami, model making to woodworking and rock painting to flower pressing.
I enjoy making cards – birthday cards, new baby cards and anniversary cards. I start and completely lose track of the time. It would be quicker driving a shop and buying a card, but definitely not as much fun.
Besides being a distraction from your pain, handcrafted creations can make wonderful gifts which can help to save you money on birthdays and Christmas.
Click on the following links to see some crafting ideas available on amazon.
There’s nothing like watching an old favourite movie (or a new one) to try to take my mind off my pain. Actually, very often, I only manage half a movie, because I fall asleep! Not the fault of the movie – pain is tiring and painkillers often make me sleep.
Last night I watch a cute and lighthearted film about a pug called Patrick. I did manage to stay awake for the whole film.
What’s you favourite type of movie? Comedy, action, thriller, mystery, rom-com, horror or a good old musical?
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As well as getting unlimited, free one-day delivery, Amazon Prime members can watch all those movies and TV episodes. Also they can borrow from thousands of titles from the Kindle owners’ lending library and listen to over 2 million songs on Prime Music.
That’s a lot of distractions! To get a 30 day free trial of Amazon Prime, click on the following banner.
Whether it’s on paper, downloaded online, or even an audiobook, it’s always great to get really absorbed in a good book.
I used to enjoy visiting the library and picking up a few books, but when you live with pain, it’s not always easy to go out and do that. Aren’t we lucky to have the internet nowadays! If you look at Google Play, you will find a huge selection of books and audiobooks which you can download. Some cost next to nothing. And Project Gutenberg has over 58,000 ebooks available to download completely free of charge. And, as I wrote above, if you’re an Amazon Prime customer, you’ll have access to the Kindle owners’ lending library.
Music – what would the world be like without music? My taste is varied. Today, my preference might be Karen Carpenter but it could be Queen or Abba tomorrow. Sometimes I need music to be loud and distracting. Other times, listening to quiet, calming music is more preferable because it helps me to relax.
7. Online games
I’ve whiled away many hours playing online games. There are so many to choose from and, the best bit, most are free to play.
Whether you play Scrabble, Tetris, or simply burst bubbles, they get your brain working, and can keep you distracted.
Writing became a hobby for me when I had to take early retirement due to my health when I was 28. Most of my writing has never been seen by anyone else but that doesn’t matter. It’s fun, enjoyable and it’s often therapeutic.
10. Learn Something New
This is one of my favourite distractions from my pain. Pain has a habit of numbing the brain. Medication numbs it even more. I believe it’s important to try to keep our brains working therefore learning something new is a worthwhile distraction.
Perhaps you could learn a new hobby? Or learn to play a musical instrument. Or you could even learn another language!
Read them – there are some amazing blogs out there. I especially love travel blogs. Travel bloggers share some gorgeous photos of places I’ve never been to and probably never will go to. They allow me to travel with them from the comfort of my armchair.
Or even better, perhaps you could start a blog yourself. You could write about your health, a hobby, fashion or whatever you fancy. Absolutely anything goes. Not sure how to start a blog? Click here to learn.
12. Learn Words to a Song or Poem
I sing all the time. (Badly!!) I also sing the wrong words most of the time. But occasionally I actually google lyrics and learn the correct words. It takes time and activates your brain cells for a while.
13. Knit and Crochet
This distraction is also practical…knit winter woollies to keep yourself warm in the cold weather or make toys for children. You could even knit some winter woollies for your four-legged friends.
Click on the following links to see some ideas.
14. Get Arty
I was talked into going to an art class a number of years ago. The teacher insisted that he could teach me to draw. And guess what? He did. If I can learn, anyone can. You might be able to find a class locally but if not, you could teach yourself with the help of books, websites, online groups or Youtube videos.
Whether you draw, paint, doodle or just colour printed pictures, you feel a sense of achievement, as well as distracting yourself from your pain for a while.
Colouring is a really popular hobby for adults and can be therapeutic. You can download some free colouring sheets from the following sites:
Art is Fun
The Maven Circle
15. Looking Through Old Photos
I could lose myself for hours looking through old family photos. They bring back happy memories. I do normally find myself laughing at my old clothes and hairstyles.
16. Toys and Games
Build models, play with Rubik’s cubes or just play board games like Scrabble, chess, draughts or monopoly.
17. Call a Friend
Phone a friend for a chinwag. Or better still, get the kettle on for a cuppa and ask the friend to pop round for a visit. Always reach out when you’re struggling.
Youtube is full of funny and entertaining video clips. Watch dopey dogs and crazy cats and you’ll hopefully find yourself laughing the hours away and distract your brain from the pain.
19. Walk or Exercise
Pain affects everyone differently. Exercise is difficult, if not impossible for some people but many people find it to be a good way to distract themselves from pain. Some forms of exercise can even bring pain relief for many people. Perhaps a short walk or gentle yoga would suit you?
20. Gratitude List
Pain often brings people down. Sometimes it’s nice to write a gratitude list because it can help to lift us back up.
I Hope Something Helps to Take Your Mind Off Your Pain
Living with constant pain is extremely difficult, therefore I hope that you can find ways to distract yourself from it. As I said at the start, distracting yourself from pain is not a cure, but a way of helping yourself through difficult days. Please remember to check out my other pain management posts which might help.